AN INTRODUCTION TO ROOT CANAL THERAPY
While you don't know what a root canal is, you probably do not want to get one. Root canals have become synonymous with pain; however, modern root canals are faster, more effective, and thanks to sedation choices, you don't have to think about suffering through any pain. There's still a lot of mystery about root canals – What are they? Who needs them? What do they fix? Learn more about the basics of root canal therapy in this blog and contact a board-certified dentist in Monaca, PA to schedule an oral health exam.
WHAT DOES A ROOT CANAL TREAT?
Your teeth are made up of the crown (the portion of your tooth visible over the gumline) and the roots (the tips of your tooth connected to your jawbone and held in place by your gums). The enamel is the hard exterior of your teeth that protects the interior pulp (blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissue). When the enamel is damaged, it allows bacteria to infect the pulp. When your tooth becomes infected (also called a dental abscess), a root canal is necessary to treat the infection. Without a root canal, the infection can destroy the tooth and spread to whole mouth, and eventually, your body.
WHAT CAUSES A TOOTH INFECTION?
- CRACKED TOOTH
When a tooth is cracked, it should be repaired as soon as possible with a filling or crown. A crack permits bacteria and irritants to reach and infect the soft pulp inside the tooth.
- UNTREATED CAVITY
A dental cavity is caused by acidic bacteria, which erodes your enamel. If a cavity is not sealed with a filling or crown, the erosion and infection can reach the dental pulp.
- CHIPPED TOOTH
Even though a chipped tooth doesn't seem bad or cause you any pain, the tooth still needs to be checked. A chip weakens the enamel and can expose the pulp to infection.
SYMPTOMS OF AN INFECTED TOOTH
- TOOTH PAIN
Persistent pain in one or more of your teeth is a sign of an abscess. This typically gets worse when you chew.
Either a sharp or dull toothache can be a symptom of an infected tooth. You should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Monaca, PA soon if you have a toothache.
- EXTRA SENSITIVE TEETH
A lot of people have temporary sensitivity in their teeth to hot or cold foods and drinks, but if the problem does not go away, it could be a sign of a tooth infection. The weakened enamel allows irritants and air to hit the dental nerves.
- GUM INFLAMMATION
Gum tissue around an infected tooth can look swollen and red. This indicates that the infection could be spreading to your gums and other teeth.
- FACE AND NECK SWELLING
When your immune system is fighting an infection, the lymph nodes in your neck swell up. If the infection is spreading beyond your tooth, you might also see some inflammation in your lower face.
A common response to any infection is a fever. An infection in your tooth can lead to a fever.
- CHRONIC HALITOSIS
Bad breath that still doesn't go away after you brush your teeth is a sign of an abscessed tooth. The bacteria inside your tooth causes a foul odor that will not disappear until the infection is addressed.
PRE-ROOT CANAL PROCESS
If you have symptoms of an infected tooth, schedule an oral health exam and consultation with your board-certified dentist in Monaca, PA. Tell your dentist about your concerns and how long you have had symptoms. Your dentist might get digital x-rays, perform a manual inspection, and use other tools to identify your problem. If your tooth is infected or abscessed, your dentist may recommend a root canal. At DentalWorks - Beaver Valley, we offer a few sedation methods, like nitrous oxide gas and oral-conscious sedation, to keep you relaxed and comfortable during your procedure. These options should be determined before you schedule your root canal so you will know if you can drive after your treatment.
GETTING A ROOT CANAL
After you arrive at the dentist for your scheduled root canal, you will be taken to a treatment room where your dental team will help you lay back and get comfortable. If you took an oral-conscious medication, this should start to help you relax. Patients receiving nitrous oxide gas will have a small hood placed over their nose, so they can start to relax. The surrounding tissue will be numbed with a local anesthetic and a dental dam can be used to keep the tooth clean and dry throughout the procedure. To begin your root canal, any decayed enamel will be cleaned from the tooth. After this, your dentist will suction out the pulp, then they will clean out and disinfect the interior of the tooth. The tooth will now be filled with a special compound made of sealant and rubber paste. Once the tooth is sealed, your dentist will generally place a dental crown over it for strength and protection.
AFTER YOUR ROOT CANAL
After a root canal, you should plan to go home and take it easy for at least the remainder of the day. Your mouth may feel a little sore and sensitive, so many patients prefer a liquid or soft foods diet. You should keep your mouth clean with gentle brushing and rinsing with mouthwash. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and/or pain medication to help you heal and recover. Your dentist will most likely ask you to schedule a follow-up exam so they can check the health of your tooth and place your custom crown.
OR JUST DON'T NEED A ROOT CANAL
The smartest thing you can do to avoid a root canal is go to your appointments at your dentist in Monaca, PA at least twice each year for an exam and professional cleaning. During exams and cleanings, your dental team will check for issues like cavities and chipped or cracked teeth that could cause an infection. By treating the smaller issue, you can prevent an infection, which will lead to a root canal. It's also wise to make sure you are brushing and flossing your teeth correctly twice a day at home. If you need advice on proper home oral hygiene or you would like to schedule an appointment for an exam and cleaning, contact DentalWorks - Beaver Valley. Our friendly team is happy to help you improve the health and appearance of your smile so we don't have to perform a root canal or other procedure.